A Food Buying Club is a form of direct farm marketing, which acts as a local alternative to the mainstream food system. Consumers are given access to high quality, local foods directly from their own farmer. Meanwhile, direct farm marketing gives producers the opportunity to make the decisions that affect their farm and their families, and opportunity to gain back their livelihoods out on the farm.
A Buying Club consists of a group of customers, which can vary in size, and one Buying Club Organizer who facilitates the delivery of the product. Each individual customer will place orders in advance directly with their farmer either by email or phone. On the pre-arranged date of delivery, the food is delivered to the Buying Club Organizer home or workplace. This means that there is only one point of delivery for multiple customers, saving time, gas, and energy for your farmer. The Buying Club Organizer has taken the responsibility of hosting the delivery, and each member picks up his/her order from the home or workplace of the Club Organizer. Pick up days are often a great way to socialize with other members in the group and add fun to getting your food.
How does it work?
Visit the following guides below to learn about how exactly a Buying Club will function. Here you’ll also learn about the additional motivations and benefits behind participating in Food Buying Clubs.
How do I start my own Club?
So, you want to start your own Buying Club. You might be asking “But what does that involve exactly?” Here is your step-by-step guide to getting your own club up and running in no time — and, not to mention, fresh, local, delicious food delivered right into your hands.
Your club needs to have a Club Organizer to initiate the process. (If you’re reading this right now, chances are this will be you.) The Club Organizer is essentially the glue that holds the Buying Club together, and thus is an integral part of this local food initiative. While the Club Organizer’s duties are not that demanding, the club’s viability is largely dependent upon the passion for the food experience and community exhibited by the Club Organizer.
- Your first step to forming a Buying Club is generating interest amongst your friends, family, and colleagues. Explain to them the concept of a Food Buying Club, how it works, and the benefits to getting food directly. Try and share why you’re passionate about the food you eat. Refer them to this website and to the introductory pieces on buying clubs (see above).
- Once you have a group of about five or more people together, just fill in the application form provided below. Email or mail the application to us and we will set it up. You can start ordering shortly thereafter.
Download Registration Form
- Once you have your Buying Club set up with your farmer(s), it’s time to start organizing.
- Send out an initial email to all of your club members including the following:
- let them know that your Buying Club is up and running!
- pass on your farmer(s) contact information (name, product, phone number, email)
- Propose one or two dates and times to organize the first delivery and ask that all members get their availability to you as soon as possible. (*Be sure to send an email to your farmer(s) with the proposed dates and times.)
- Once you have established a date and time that works for the group and for your farmer, be sure to mark it in your calendar!
- Talk to your farmer about the ordering system that will work best for the group, food that will be available that month, and work out any other details that need to be discussed.
- Send out another email to your club members, relaying information about the food available, ordering deadlines, and a reminder of the delivery date and time.
- From here, each member will place his or her order directly with the farmer.
- Send out an email near the order deadline (one week before delivery) to remind everyone to get their orders in and an additional reminder for the delivery the following week.
- Date of delivery: Your role on the date of delivery is simply to be the host. Put on a pot of fair trade coffee, socialize, and have fun!
The Club Organizer:
- Initiates the Buying Club
- Organizes delivery dates (finds suitable date/time for the farmer and group members)
- Provides a space (home/garage/workplace) for delivery and pick up of food
- Forwards news and information to members
The coordinator does not:
- Take individual orders from members
- Receive or make payments; process cash
Individual members are responsible for:
- Placing their own order with their farmer
- Picking up food on the date of delivery and making payment to their farmer
- Lending a hand to the coordinator when needed
- Ideas, input, and community
Does it cost money to start up a club?
No! Unlike some CSAs or cooperatives, there are no costs associated with joining or starting your own Buying Club, and no membership fees. To be a member you just have to participate in ordering food on a regular basis with your fellow group members.
How big should my Buying Club be?
To get your own club started you should have at least five adult members. Often a Buying Club begins with five households or five families. There is no maximum number of members. If you aren’t able to get a group of people together, there is also the option of joining up with an existing club.
How often do I have to place an order?
Typically groups will place orders every one to two months.
How do I send in my order?
The best way to send in your order is directly to your farmer, via email. Alternatively, you can place your order over the phone.
Is there a minimum order amount?
There are minimum orders. Please speak directly with your farmer about minimum order amounts.
Does my order have to be in a specific format?
For the time being, there are no specific order forms that you must use. Placing your order directly in the email message will work best.
When is my order due to my farmer?
All orders must be received no later than one week in advance of the delivery day.
Will my farmer always have what I order in stock?
We ask that you understand that we may not always have all items in stock.
Can I add on to my order after I have already sent it in?
Everyone has their forgetful moments. If you forgot something from your order, send us an email and we’ll try to get it in on time.
For additional information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also, be sure to check out this video which documents a successful Buying Club near Corvallis, Oregon.